With Fergus' first birthday occurring on the 4th of July, I have been anxious to find some 'treat' that he would relish. So, when the hand-delivered invitation to join the very prestigious Leran Walking Group's third event....well, there was no more discussion. Julian, the more-or-less patriarch of 'the Group', extended a very special invite to The Ferg. In reply, not quite knowing the whole scoop, The Ferg attempted to cleanse Julian's hands and forearms with some serious licking. I, on the other hand, was excited about the rollicking good time that The Ferg and Jemma (Billy and Sally's 2-year old rescue German Shepherd) just might possibly have. We've been taking Fergus on multiple walks and bike rides a day---I never realized that a dog needed to poo and pee that many times---but he rarely gets interaction with other dogs.
It rained on and off the night before the big walk, and only I, the American, would actually think that maybe the whole thing would be called off on account of the weather. I could tell by the excitement in Julian's voice the minute he answered the phone, that Brits would NEVER be put off by rain. Soldier on!
All the walkers met at Le Rendezvous Bar in Leran at 10:00 am, not merely as a starting point, but, more importantly, to place lunch orders with Shirley. The new owners of the Leran Bar (Marek and Shirley) have turned the place around, created a most welcoming atmosphere, and will be the focus of an up-coming post. This critical piece of business out of the way, leader Julian issued color maps to interested parties. The intended destination: Chateau de Queille via a loop route through Belloc, total 11 km +/-. Everybody glanced at the map, but since Julian had the official plasticized map-holder hanging round his neck, I was totally willing to defer to his judgment.
Fergus and Jemma did some jockeying for positioning at the beginning, with Fergus zooming between the little sub-groups forming. Annoying as he must have been, everyone was a good sport. The real indicator will be if I get invited back to the next 'event'.
We headed off on the lane past our Leran Chateau, out past wheat, sunflower and corn fields, cow pastures, a few donkeys and mules. Little conversations developed as we strolled down the roads and paths. We turned off to a smaller footpath, now gumbo mud from last night's rain. Being the only one wearing sandals, I wasn't sure if I was the smartest or stupidest in the group. Still not sure. Every so often or at unmarked intersections our leader Julian would regroup and check his bearings on both the regular-size and enhanced-sized print maps. The Chateau de Queille is situated in a charming little hollow, with the River Tourye running alongside, surrounded by lush vegetation.
With the misty cloud cover, the temperature was perfect, and the bugs were behaving. Seems that most of them were attacking the farm animals. While we may have kept up a steady pace, we missed Julian's ETA at the bar, so he phoned ahead to hold our lunches another hour. We arrived triumphantly, joined by non-walking spouses (guess who???) and the Ferg slept the rest of the afternoon. He says it's the best birthday a dog could have.